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16 May, 2020 19:23

Cuomo puts brakes on reopening NY, claiming ‘nobody’s been here before’ – Wait, what about Georgia?

Cuomo puts brakes on reopening NY, claiming ‘nobody’s been here before’ – Wait, what about Georgia?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has warned that his state’s reopening may be long and arduous, saying “nobody has been here before.” But other states have been there before, and Cuomo can look South to Georgia for proof.

Cuomo extended the Empire State’s “NY Pause” order on Thursday, dragging out the economic shutdown until the end of May in certain regions of the state. Concurrently, he extended his stay-at-home order until June 13, effectively granting himself the power to further extend the individual components of the former order at will.

To confused New Yorkers, some of whom worried about facing down a sweltering summer shut away indoors, the governor offered some consolation on Saturday. Televised sports – baseball, horse racing and stock-car racing – will be restarted, albeit in front of empty grandstands. In addition, Cuomo said he is looking at reopening “any economic activity that you can start without crowds.”

READ MORE: New Yorkers confused as Gov. Cuomo extends NY Pause and stay-at-home orders to seemingly contradictory dates

However, Cuomo cautioned that the path to reopening is by no means straight. “This is a new phase, this is an unknown phase,” he told reporters on Saturday. “Nobody can tell you exactly what happens,” he added, claiming that “nobody has been here before.”

“How you act will determine what happens to you,” he added, reminding the public not to get their hopes up about a full relaxation of rules yet.

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Despite Cuomo’s assertion, some states “have been here before.” When Georgia’s pro-Trump governor, Brian Kemp, pushed ahead with a near-full reopening last month, critics described the plan as suicide. Kemp, read one article in The Atlantic, was about to conduct an “experiment in human sacrifice.” Pundits exclaimed that the Republican governor was “going to get people killed.” Even Trump, who has repeatedly called on governors to re-open their states, said that he wasn’t happy with Kemp’s gung-ho plan.

Three weeks later, cases, hospitalizations and deaths are steadily declining in the Peach State. Given Covid-19’s incubation period of between two and 14 days, Kemp’s gambit appears to have paid off. Indeed, the experience in Georgia seems to confirm what researchers in Massachusetts found last month when they studied the lockdown experience in Europe. Analyzing policy in Italy, France, Spain and the UK, the study found that “full lockdown” strategies had “no evident impacts” on the disease’s trajectory.

Cuomo’s refusal to acknowledge Georgia’s success could be seen as political, given that he and Kemp sit on opposing sides of the aisle. It could also demonstrate a more risk-averse temperament. However, Cuomo is more likely wary of emulating a state with vastly different demographics, population density, and climate – not to mention death figures.

New York accounts for just under a quarter (358,000) of the US’ 1.5 million cases of Covid-19, and nearly a third (27,700) of the country’s deaths. Georgia, by contrast, has reported 37,000 cases, and 1,588 deaths. 

Even though New York has twice as many residents as Georgia, it has nearly five times as many cases and almost ten times as many deaths per million people.

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